Results: Arsenal 3-0 Crystal Palace, Blackburn Rovers 1-0 Sheffield Wednesday, Coventry City 3-3 Leeds United, Ipswich Town 2-1 Nottingham Forest, Liverpool FC 6-2 Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City 2-5 Everton, Middlesbrough 3-3 Norwich City, Oldham Athletic 4-3 Southampton, Sheffield United 4-2 Chelsea, Queens Park Rangers 2-1 Aston Villa, Wimbledon 1-2 Manchester United
The final weekend of the very first FA Premier League season would be a record-breaking one with the highest total of goals scored ever during a top-flight weekend since the formation of the division. Incredibly, 53 goals found the back of the net in the 11 matches that took place. It was clear that some defences were already on holiday on this evidence!
With Manchester United already crowned as the maiden Premier League champions, the main attention was focused on the bottom of the table. Nottingham Forest and Middlesbrough were already relegated, so just one spot was up for grabs and it was a straight shootout between Crystal Palace and Oldham Athletic.
The odds were in Palace’s favour. They only needed a point from their final match at Highbury against an Arsenal side who might have had one eye on an FA Cup final appearance in a week’s time. However, it all went wrong for Steve Coppell’s side. Ian Wright opened the scoring against his former employers after just nine minutes. Further late strikes from Paul Dickov and Kevin Campbell consigned Palace to a 3-0 defeat. They now required help from Southampton.
The Saints were at Boundary Park to play Oldham. Oldham had looked dead and buried a week earlier but shock wins over Aston Villa and Liverpool FC had given them genuine hope of beating the drop. Another win here and they would be playing Premier League football in 1993-1994. It looked very good after 64 minutes. Goals from Neil Pointon, Ian Olney, Andy Ritchie and Gunnar Halle had Oldham 4-1 ahead. Matt Le Tissier was not going to make it easy though. He almost single-handily dragged Southampton back into the match with a hat-trick. Oldham manager Joe Royle was racing upstairs and downstairs every couple of minutes as the tension increased during the afternoon.
Oldham held on though for a priceless three points which ensured they stayed up on goal difference. Crystal Palace were relegated and Coppell resigned soon afterwards.
Another manager under pressure was Liverpool FC’s Graeme Souness. He was a mysterious absentee from the club’s final home match of an underwhelming season against Tottenham Hotspur. The official reason given by the club was he was on a ‘scouting mission.’ Ronnie Moran took control on the day and the players responded well, thumping Tottenham 6-2. There were two goals apiece for John Barnes and Ian Rush. Teddy Sheringham’s consolation meant he would win the Golden Boot in the first Premier League season. Tottenham would change managers in the close season, with playing legend Ossie Ardiles appointed that summer, whilst Liverpool did stick with Souness until January 1994.
Manchester United closed their season out 24 hours after the majority of the other teams had played. They beat Wimbledon 2-1 at Selhurst Park, with skipper Bryan Robson scoring their final goal of the league season. They would finish 10 points clear of Aston Villa, who lost 2-1 at Queens Park Rangers to ensure they lost their final three games of the season. That win for QPR ensured they would finish in fifth spot and were London’s top club. This was a marvellous achievement for Gerry Francis.
One manager bowing out completely was Brian Clough. His final game in management was at Portman Road and he exited with a defeat. Despite a penalty from his son, Nigel Clough, Nottingham Forest lost 2-1 to Ipswich Town to ensure they finished bottom of the table. Elsewhere, Peter Beagrie scored twice as Everton finished a lacklustre season on a real high, winning 5-2 away at Manchester City and Tim Sherwood’s header beat Sheffield Wednesday at Ewood Park. Blackburn Rovers finished fourth in their first season after promotion from the Second Division.
What else happened in May 1993?
- Kenneth Clarke is appointed as the new Chancellor of the Exchequer after Norman Lamont’s sacking following Black Wednesday.
- Ireland wins the Eurovision Song Contest with “In Your Eyes,” performed by Niamh Kavanagh.
- Eritrea gains independence from Ethiopia and becomes a member of the United Nations.
- Inflation in the UK reaches a 29-year low of 1.3%.
- After 10 years, ITV drops the popular teatime gameshow ‘Blockbusters.’ It will be revived on four separate occasions by Sky One, BBC Two and Challenge before disappearing for good in 2012.
- Matthew Kelly becomes the new host of the ITV programme, ‘Stars in Their Eyes.’ He will continue to front the show for the next 10 years.